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Dining In: Outdoor farmers market is back

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Spring brings flowers, early vegetables and the return of the shad to the Delaware River in time for this weekend’s Shad Fest in Lambertville, N.J., along with the opening of the outdoor Doylestown Farmers Market.

Rain and a little wind didn’t dampen the spirits of customers who turned out for last Saturday’s market, where local farmers and vendors set up stalls along Hamilton Street. The Doylestown market is among the earliest in the area to move outdoors, with a season that continues rain or shine on Saturdays through Nov. 23.

Customers were quick to find their favorite vendors who were hawking vegetables, popcorn, mushrooms, meats, eggs, cheeses, fresh and dried herbs, cut flowers, breads, pasta, baked goods, jams, sauces, olive oil, honey, ice cream, condiments, coffee, kombucha and pickles. Vendors also offered soaps, alpaca yarn and dog treats.

Sam Marlow of Sandbrook Farm in Stockton, N.J., was busy telling her customers that spring spinach is especially sweet and tender, while Fran Fischer of Castle Valley Mill outside Doylestown was selling a rare commodity: ramps she had gathered on her property.

“We first found them three years ago,” she said of the wild onion that is native to North America and can be found in fields throughout the area. With a flavor that is a cross between an onion and garlic, they are a favorite of local chefs.

The ramps are an example of the surprises you often find at Doylestown and other markets, where each week brings something new.

The Doylestown market has planned special events throughout the season starting with Earth Day on Saturday, April 27, and followed by GardenFest on May 18.

Another local favorite, the Wrightstown Farmers Market, will return to the outdoors on May 4 when it will be back to its Saturday appearances in the Wrightstown Township municipal complex at 2203 Second Street Pike.

Meanwhile, this is the best time to enjoy local spinach in season. It adds color, flavor and nutrients to this recipe from Terhune Orchards in Princeton, N.J. (terhuneorchards.com), where the spinach harvest is in full swing.

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts
4 cups spinach, loosely packed
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup mozzarella cheese,
shredded
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil. Sauté the garlic until golden and then add the spinach. Stir and cook just until the leaves soften and reduce by half. Allow to cool.

Cut a horizontal slit in each chicken breast to create a pocket. Mix the spinach with the mozzarella and stuff into the pockets.

Place chicken in baking dish, season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve over rice, which can be done cooking by the time the chicken comes out of the oven.

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